After years of uncertainty, the Department of Justice has given official permission for hospitals to begin performing "paired" kidney transplants in which multiple donors pass along kidneys to unrelated recipients. The decision should allow about one-half of the 6,000 patients waiting for compatible kidneys to get their transplant, and for others, will cut the standard five-year waiting period significantly, experts said. It should also save Medicare about $500 million each year in dialysis costs. Prior to this decision, paired kidney transplants have been rare. Hospitals and clinicians were reluctant to take part in such swaps, as it wasn't clear whether they were legal. Some were concerned that the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act, which makes it a crime to transfer a human organ for "valuable consideration," also forbid such exchanges.
To learn more about the DOJ decision:
- read this article from The Baltimore Sun